Apr 1, 2022
Feb 16, 2022
Stoner? Probably. Beast? Definitely.
Large. Does the same thing over and over but still very popular.
Loves playing the heel. Very talented. Will talk shit at a moment’s notice.
Awesome. Takes up for herself. Most people don’t know who she is yet, but they will.
Tall. Annoyingly positive to the point of ‘go away’ heat.* Old.
Awesomely talented, but not as ‘over’** as they should be.
Not very good at anything, but always seems to be hanging around.
*Go away heat - when fans are legitimately not entertained and want the performer to stop it.
**Over - generating a large reaction from the fans.
Jan 6, 2022
By Matthew Martin
1- Morgan Wade- Reckless
There's not much to say about this album that hasn't been screamed from the rooftops already. Morgan Wade is an exceptional talent writing catchy songs. The production on this album is top notch and the band matches the energy on each song. The future is bright for Morgan Wade and if you aren't on the bandwagon, hurry up and hop on. Top Song: Wilder Days
2- Sturgill Simpson- The Dood and Juanita
When Sturgill goes country, Sturgill is at his very best. When Sturgill creates an album using Willie Nelson's Red Headed Stranger as a template, you know you're in for something seriously good. And, Sturgill doesn't disappoint. The album explores all different aspects of mountain music while telling a compelling story throughout the album. If this is, in fact, Sturgill's final album, it's a hell of note to go out on. Top Song: Shamrock or Ol Dood (Part I)
3- James McMurtry - The Horses & The Hounds
There isn't an artist out there who has gotten better with age more than James McMurtry. I truly believe that. No other artist has let their music and lyrical content match the lessons they have learned over their long lives the way McMurtry has. On what might be his best album, McMurtry gave up a good bit of the guitar playing to focus on the singing and it works. I miss the jangle of McMurtry's guitar at times, but his band more than makes up for it. Top Song: Canola Fields
4- Sierra Ferrell- Long Time Coming
No album surprised me more than this one. Sierra Ferrell knocked me off my feet with this grand slam of an album focused on old time country music. This is Appalachian music at it's best. The music and band are impeccable but Ferrell's voice matches and surpasses each. She is going to be a long time in this music business and look forward to seeing how to progresses moving forward. Top Song: West Virginia Waltz
5- Charles Wesley Godwin- How The Mighty Fall
By far my most anticipated album of the year was CWG's follow up to his debut album, Seneca. And he fully delivered. The band CWG compiled for this album made the perfect backdrop for these beautiful and tragic tales on this album. From the scratchy fiddle to the roaring guitar solos, this album is not to be missed. CWG also has some of his best work to date on this album and I believe there is no place to go but up for this talent. Top Song: Jesse
6- John R Miller- Depreciated
I had never heard of JRM, but this album changed that and for good reason. The lyrics are reminiscent of John Prine. The voice is reminiscent of Jay Farrar. What more could you ask for? Top Song: Shenenandoah Shakedown
7- Joshua Ray Walker- See You Next Time
For the final installment of Joshua Ray Walker's trilogy, JRW uses all the influences he has to create a distinct album that only he could pull off effectively. And you can't convince me that anyone right now has a better voice than JRW. Top Song: Flash Paper
8- Drayton Farley- A Hard Up Life
Seems like the last couple of years have been big for country music that is simple, direct, and cutting. From Tyler Childers to Zach Bryan, it's been a recipe for success and Drayton Farley is following that recipe to the same effect. This album is effective and devastating. I can't wait to see what this guy can do with a full band behind him. Top Song: Pitchin' Fits
9- Ottoman Turks- II
The boys for Dallas have done it again. They have created an album that is as much The Stooges as it is Dwight Yoakam. More people should know Ottoman Turks. If you don't know them, get to know them. Top Song: 35 to Life
10- Bo Burnham- Inside
Not a usual album for these lists here, but I can't help it. This album was incredible. You can watch the special on Netflix and it's great, but the music is what makes this. The album works just as effectively. I know there are a lot of albums that feel very appropriate to the times we are in- the mental anguish, the nerviness, the isolation- but there is none that is more effective at parsing out those feeling than this one. Truly an album for our times. Top Song: All Eyes On Me
Dec 21, 2021
Dec 16, 2021
Staff vote included me (Trailer), Kevin Broughton, Megan Bledsoe, Robert Dean, Scott Colvin, Travis Erwin, Jeremy Harris, and Matthew Martin.
20. Cole Chaney - Mercy
19. Langhorne Slim - Strawberry Mansion
18. TK & the Holy Know-Nothings - The Incredible Heat Machine
17. John R. Miller - Depreciated
I had never heard of JRM, but this album changed that and for good reason. The lyrics are reminiscent of John Prine. The voice is reminiscent of Jay Farrar. What more could you ask for? ~Matthew Martin
16. Mastodon - Hushed and Grim
Mastodon has been one of my favorite bands for over a decade…even before I learned drummer/singer Brann Dailor went to my high school…or that he grew up less than a mile from my house. How I didn’t know him back then still baffles me. Anyway, I thought this was an OK Mastodon release when it came out, but after hearing these songs live…WOW…it’s one of their best. ~Scott Colvin
15. Mac Leaphart - Music City
Music City Joke is an album that is sneaky good with simple intelligence and honest observation at the heart of the writing and a traditional sound to the music. ~Travis Erwin
14. Olivia Rodrigo - Sour
This album is so good it hurts. The first time I heard it all I could think was it reminded me of Billie Eilish’s groundbreaking “When We All Fall Asleep Where Do We Go?” That special…unique. Trust me, in 10 years people are going to treat this release like Taylor Swift’s “Red” album…now. This record has legit bangers like “Brutal” “Jealousy, Jealousy” and “Good 4 U” to thoughtful heartbreakers like “Déjà vu,” “Driver’s License” and “Traitor.” ~Scott
13. Jason Boland & The Stragglers - The Light Saw Me
12. The Steel Woods - All of Your Stones
11. Margo Cilker - Pohorylle
Margo Cilker’s debut album is a classic case of the sum being better than its parts. There are no lyrical masterpieces and nothing to reinvent the wheel from a musical standpoint. Nevertheless, the simple yet lush arrangements, the production which carefully and thoughtfully enhances each song, Cilker’s excellent capacity for writing melodies and hooks, and the sense of place and general mood surrounding this whole record all come together to make one of the year’s standout albums. ~Megan
10. Emily Scott Robinson - American Siren
Simple honest writing that speaks with a genuineness. ~Travis
For me, the most intoxicating voice in roots music, and she backs it up with knife-edge honesty and conversational poetry that reaches into your soul. ~Trailer
9. Sturgill Simpson - The Ballad of Dood & Juanita
When Sturgill goes country, Sturgill is at his very best. When Sturgill creates an album using Willie Nelson’s Red Headed Stranger as a template, you know you’re in for something seriously good. And, Sturgill doesn’t disappoint. The album explores all different aspects of mountain music while telling a compelling story throughout the album. If this is, in fact, Sturgill’s final album, it’s a hell of note to go out on. ~Matthew
8. Jesse Daniel - Beyond These Walls
If FTM had a “follow-up album of the year” category, this one would win it unanimously. Stretching his legs from the Bakersfield love fest that was Rollin’ On, Daniel – by focusing on the simple things in life – has broadened his focus, showing a grateful audience just how great country music can be. He’s made a great leap forward with his vocals and songwriting, and those were already high bars. There’s not a weak cut on this album. ~Kevin
7. Billy Strings - Renewal
With a voice that makes old men listen, a look that makes old women run, and lyrics that make anyone think, Billy Strings hits it out of the park with Renewal. From start to finish a bluegrass legend is being built. This is the sound and the man that will define and carry the genre for years to come. ~Jeremy
6. Brandi Carlile - In These Silent Days
With vocals that are unmatched and songs written with real heart, In These Silent Days is the album and song we all need after coming out of quarantine. Brandi continues to define herself and her songwriting which are featured on “Right on Time,” “Broken Horses,” and the title track. A masterpiece from start to finish as well as the perfect way to continue to add impressive accomplishments to Grammy-winning producer Shooter Jennings’ resume that began with once making Trailer’s worst vocalist in country music list. ~Jeremy Harris
Not a single miss for me here and Carlile had the best performance on SNL in a long while. this album is just one that rises above its competitors in ways I haven’t found an album since Isbell’s Southeastern stood out from other albums that year. ~Travis
5. Mike & The Moonpies - One to Grow On
...merely flawless. ~Kevin
An album that sounds like the world’s best bar band captured their true sound and appeal. I haven’t heard them live yet, so I don’t know if that’s accurate, but it sure feels that way. A record that’s consistently inspired and inspiring. ~Trailer
4. Sierra Ferrell - Long Time Coming
Without fail there seems to be one album every year that sneaks up on me, transfixes and ultimately knocks me on my ass. I had never heard of this artist before Trailer hyped her upon the album’s release. I can’t even wrap my head around this record. This is probably a horrible comparison, but take the best parts of Camper Van Beethoven, Kat Edmonson and Lindi Ortega and multiply it by 100. ~Scott
3. James McMurtry - The Horses and the Hounds
James McMurtry’s songwriting is like that of no other. His prose is vividly rich in detail but composed in such a plainspoken manner that it remains accessible and relatable to us all. There is something uniquely charming about his frankness, something inherently poetic and refreshing in reflecting on all of the world’s hardships and then expressing a problem so mundane as constantly losing one’s glasses. These ruminations constitute some of the best songs of the year, and McMurtry remains one of the most interesting songwriters of his generation. ~Megan
He’s just the Godfather.
I picture a room full of accomplished singer-songwriters trading shop talk when McMurtry walks in, and all of a sudden you can hear a pin drop. It’s been six years since his last album, and just like last time, there’s an effortless feel to this magnificent work of art. McMurtry combines imagery, geography and unrequited love better than Guy Clark, Lyle Lovett or Townes. I literally listened to “Canola Fields” seven times before moving on to the second cut. It’s on par with “Tangled Up In Blue.” ~Kevin
2. Charles Wesley Godwin - How the Mighty Fall
Charles Wesley Godwin, through the poetry of his songs and the haunting qualities of his voice, has managed to set Appalachia to music. If Seneca was a perfect encapsulation of the place, then How the Mighty Fall can be called a perfect encapsulation of the region’s people. More than that, it is a commentary on desperation itself, both the circumstances which lead to it and the various lengths to which one will go when faced with it. Artists are often plagued by the idea of the sophomore slump, but Godwin second album is just as exceptional as his first. ~Megan
Speaking of great follow-ups, Geez. Seneca, Godwin’s stellar breakout record from 2019, was just a warmup, it seems, for his 2021 offering. There’s an intensity to his writing this time around that solidifies a rightful claim to be mentioned in the same breath as his Appalachian brethren: Simpson and Childers. ~Kevin
1. Morgan Wade - Reckless
There’s not much to say about this album that hasn’t been screamed from the rooftops already. Morgan Wade is an exceptional talent writing catchy songs. The production on this album is top notch and the band matches the energy on each song. The future is bright for Morgan Wade and if you aren’t on the bandwagon, hurry up and hop on. Top Song: Wilder Days ~Matthew
There are notes of Lucinda and Elizabeth Cook – and Garbage and Matchbox 20 oddly enough – in Morgan Wade’s presentation, and I can’t get enough of it. There’s a knowing tone of confidence mixed with a questioning undercurrent of sadness all through the album. She’s enough of the way through the journey of finding herself to have an air of comfort taming the tension. The balance of those two feelings makes Reckless a real winner. ~Trailer
(Others receiving multiple votes: Flatland Cavalry, Drayton Farley, Red Shahan, Vincent Neil Emerson, Yola, Carly Pearce, Ashley Monroe, Tennessee Jet)
Dec 15, 2021
Morgan Wade - Reckless
You have used brass knuckles in a fight, regardless of your gender. You’re a 90s kid who doesn’t relate to those “You Know You’re a 90s Kid if…” Buzzfeed posts. You believe that genres aren’t important, but also think most pop country is sweltering garbage.
Dan + Shay - Good Things
You can’t even remember how to spell your own kids’ names. You drink so much wine, you’re on your way to a fatty liver despite weighing 110 pounds. You don’t like country, and don’t really care if people make fun of Dan + Shay for being soft pop, but you will curse a Starbucks manager in a heartbeat.
Jason Aldean - Macon
You think Morgan Wallen is just a Jason Aldean copycat with better hair. You have called Eric Church a cuck lib on Twitter. You wish you were young enough to pull off driving a truck with a Carolina squat. Your kids make fun of your tribal tattoo.
Morgan Wallen - Dangerous
You spent the money you were going to donate to Trump 2024 on Wallen tickets. You “have black friends.” You and your girlfriend drive trucks with a Carolina squat. You’d say your life motto is “Bad Ass Boys Drive Bad Ass Toys” but it’s actually “celebrating mediocrity.”
Carly Pearce - 29: Written in Stone
You’ve been through it, sister. Or brother. Or whoever.
Blake Shelton - Body Language
The only time you intentionally listen to any music whatsoever is when watching The Voice. Team Blake all the way! You’re suspicious and jealous of Gwen, but will tear anyone a new one if they besmirch her or Blake on Twitter. The police have a file on you, but you don’t have a record.
Parmalee - For You
You see members of Parmalee on holidays and at family reunions.